Why I Blog

The NY Times recently ran a piece, “Blogs Falling in an Empty Forest” by Douglas Quenqua, which told how 95% of blogs are abandoned by their creators.  According to Technorati, the paper said, only 7.4 million blogs, out of the 133 million blogs that Technorati tracks, have been updated in the last 120 days.  Most people just don’t stick with blogging, especially when they find out there is no money in it.  I never thought I’d find riches in blogging, but I do find the hobby very rewarding.  It’s a shame Mr. Quenqua only focused on people who quit blogging.

Blogging for me is therapeutic.  Since I’ve grown into my 50s, I’ve been forgetting more and more words.  The more I write, the better I remember.  Recently when I had an eye problem and couldn’t write on my blog for weeks, my memory went into a decline.  Picking a topic and focusing on it for several hours is good exercise for my mind.  Writing about the past has psychoanalytical benefits too.  I’m constantly examining where I got an idea, and why I believe something.  I’ve spent a lot of blog time examining the science fiction I read in my teens, trying to figure out how those fantastic stories shaped the thoughts of my life.  It’s been amazingly revealing to me.  That’s just one of many blogging projects I pursue.

Blogging is like practicing the piano in public though, because writing fast often produces sentences with many sour notes.  I try hard to revise my essays before hitting the publish button, but all too often I find bumpy passages and mistakes the next day.  This is actually good for me, because it pushes me to try harder, although I think I’m currently on a plateau.  Seeing how I’m not improving as fast as I was a year ago, makes me want to try something new, like reading books on writing essays, or studying fine prose in magazines to improve my sentence structure.  Lately, I’ve even thought of studying poetry, something I hated in school.

WordPress provides statistics about my blog pages, that I use to examine which ideas I write about are popular  This is probably a false assumption, but I assume if a piece gets a lot of hits it means it’s interesting.  That doesn’t mean my writing is better in that piece, but at least I found something that people want to read about.  My most successful essay has been “The Greatest Science Fiction Novels of the 20th Century.”  My stats tell me that 8,505 people have loaded that essay into their browser for whatever reason.  My ego would like to believe people actually read the essay, but all it really means is 8,505 folks have stumbled upon that page, whether or not they have read it is another story.  The act of writing it is what’s important.

My least popular essay is, “Super Men and Mighty Mice,” with 3 hits, but I think it’s one of my better efforts.  Hits don’t mean a thing.  Actually, both essays are very informative to me, and help me remember things I noticed about the world.  That’s why my blog is called, “Auxiliary Memory – Things I Want to Remember.”  I think Douglas Quenqua missed a great story by not researching why 7.4 million people do keep blogging.

Not only am I getting to know myself better, but I’m also meeting so many fascinating people online.  If you read blogs, you get to know people in a way you seldom do by just talking with acquaintances at work or parties.  I wished all my friends wrote blogs.  If my wife published her thoughts in little essays I expect I’d discover a whole new woman that I never got to know during the 31 years we’ve been married.  I’m constantly discovering things about myself that I didn’t know.  Writing is revealing.

Every evening after work I have about three hours of freedom where I can do absolutely anything I want.  All too often, I pick watching television.  I love television, it’s quite stimulating, but it’s basically parking my brain – unless I respond in some way.  If I watch a show, whether fiction or non-fiction, and then write about it in a blog, I will see that show far differently.  It becomes a real experience.

In my hours of freedom I could choose to read, listen to music, work at a hobby, play on the Wii, cruise the net, clean house, listen to an audio book, call friends on the phone, cook a better than average dinner, study a Great Course on DVD – the list goes on and on.  Writing on a blog post pushes my mind more than anything else.  Struggling to find the right words to capture a fleeting concept that came to me as a mini-epiphany during the day takes a great deal of concentration.  More concentration than I put into anything else I do. 

I wished I could have blogged when I was seven and first learned to string words together into sentences like they taught us in grade school.  I think it would have transformed my life and greatly improved my K-12 experience.  If I had had to write an essay about every lesson I studied, from math to PE, I think I would have learned so much more during my educational years.

Pedagogy puts a tremendous focus on reading.  At the College of Education where I work, students can get a master’s degree or doctorate in Reading, but we don’t offer any educational degrees that focus on writing.  Inputting words is important, but I think outputting words is more important for a good education.  It’s a shame that blogging is not catching on.  It’s a shame that it’s seen as a scheme to get rich quick on the net.  It has so much more potential.

We should encourage children to blog, and we should also support the permanent archiving of blogs, so kids growing up can look back over their own development.  We should develop a curriculum that asks children to explain what they studied each day by writing essays that explain their subjects in words, drawings, diagrams, videos, photos and so on, and not in checking multiple variations of A) … B) …  C) …  D) … at the end of the week in a quiz.

So Douglas Quenqua, write another article for your Fashion & Style section, and explore the positive aspects of blogging that those hundred million plus are missing by giving up on blogging.  I think if you examine a 100 different good blogs you’d find a 100 different reasons why blogging is too valuable to just dismiss as a passing fad.  Here’s just one creative example, Golden Age Comic Book Stories, that I discovered the same day as your article.  I don’t even like comic books, but I could spend endless hours exploring Mr. Door Tree’s passion for illustrations.  There’s real history in his pages.

Everyone should scrapbook their life in a blog.

JWH – 6/8/9

One thought on “Why I Blog”

  1. This post really rang my bell! I blog for many of the same reasons — what better way to keep the old dendrites branching and synapses jumping? Like you, to complete a post, often I have to look up reference material (in my case, info on Florida wildflowers, bugs, wild turkeys, etc.). I had to teach myself how to blog from the get-go, and enough about html, uploading photos, etc. to get the darn thing to work. My blog is a multi-media scrapbook, memoir in the making, and writer’s journal. It has encouraged me to design my own creative writing program and go after it, as well as to begin submitting some of my essays and get published.

    Woohoo! And best of all, I have found a lovely community of virtual friends, plus there’s no age limit on blogging!

    Thanks for a super essay.

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